Spyware Hackers or You: Who is the most dangerous?

Are you sabotaging yourself with spyware?

“The Amish Virus
You have just received the Amish virus. As the Amish don’t have any technology or programming experience, this virus works on the honor system.  Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list.  Thank you for your cooperation.”

As a computer technician, the first time I read this joke, I laughed out loud. Yep, I thought to myself, ain’t that the truth. I know from both personal and professional experience that spyware programmers can cause a lot of damage not only to a computer but also to your personal life if they have access to your sensitive files.

But all jokes aside, the most dangerous person who can access your machine is not some remote foreign hacker but you and your family. Often when I visit a client who is having spyware issues, I often find that the bulk of their problems are self inflicted.

Malicious programmers can only hide their products inside of innocent looking pop-ups, webpages or “freeware” programs hoping to lure some unwary computer user into downloading them. Like a fisherman on the river bank, they can only cast out appetizing bait hoping to hook you.

But it’s you, the computer user who can do whatever you like with your machine:

Like download files or programs from unknown sources…

Or turn off your firewall, because you find it annoying…

Forget to download and update security patches for operating system…

“Borrow” programs from your good buddy and install on your PC…

Visit high-risk websites catering to game “cheats”, offshore gambling or the “babe-of-the-day”…

Use weak passwords or don’t change them frequently enough…

Change the security and privacy settings on your web browser, so you don’t have to keep approving downloads…

Never look at the URL or address of website to make sure you haven’t been redirected to a spoof site…

Never read the EULA (end user license agreements), opt-in terms, privacy statements, and any notices with any software you download.

I feel, that to a certain extent, lack of proper knowledge on how to prevent spyware is a problem but still a good many clients just don’t care enough to stop their bad browsing habits. They like doing what they want on the Net and they just figure that spyware is the “cost” of doing business as usual.

But this “it can’t happen here” mindset is exactly what the bad guys are looking for. They have created the best “lures” they possibly can but you still have to “take the nibble” to get caught.

Spyware like the “Amish Virus” relies on people to make their own selves victims.